Kenilworth woman whose mother and aunt died of ovarian cancer trying to raise awareness among women

Caroline Rowe
Caroline Rowe

A Kenilworth woman whose mother and aunt both died from ovarian cancer is trying to raise money and awareness of the condition among women during March.

Caroline Rowe, 53, who has raised money for cancer charity Macmillan in recent years, decided to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer charity Target Ovarian Cancer specifically for the first time this year.

Caroline's mother Helen Cresswell

Caroline's mother Helen Cresswell

Because March is ovarian cancer awareness month, she is having her own fundraising event with her friends on Friday March 17.

Caroline has also distributed around 200 leaflets around Kenilworth to try and get the message out there. She still has 100 more to go.

Caroline said: “This year I just thought I’m going to go for it.”

“I’ve lost my mother and I don’t want other people to lose their mother or their daughters. If I can help just a few people I’ll be happy.”

Caroline’s mother, Helen Cresswell, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003, and it eventually took her life at the age of 71 in 2005. She had no tests.

And Caroline’s aunt Pauline Cresswell died from the same disease 10 years earlier.

Early symptoms of ovarian cancer can be relatively mild, such as a bloated stomach, needing to go to the toilet more often and feeling full after eating a smaller than usual amount of food.

As such, the disease is sometimes misdiagnosed, often as the much more manageable condition irritable bowel syndrome.

However, danger signs can be identified from a straightforward blood test. Depending on the results, patients may have their stomach and ovaries scanned.

Like other cancers, the earlier ovarian cancer is identified, the higher the chance of survival.

Caroline believes awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms is far less than other forms of the disease, such as breast cancer, among women.

She also felt many women are not brave enough to ask their GP for a blood test or to get a second opinion on their symptoms.

She said: “If I can reach 150 people with the message - maybe that’s three people who will go to the doctors and ask for a blood test.

“I think people need to stand up for their rights sometimes and make a bit of a fuss.”

The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age, with more than half of all cases diagnosed when the patient is 65 or older.

Although most cases of ovarian cancer have no link to family history, there is an increased risk if family members have had it.